It’s them sycamores I remember. An’ the river, runnin’ deep and green, tinkling jus’ like the way Aunt Clara’s house keys used to when she was out on the porch about to unlock the front door. I’d hide my mouse in my pocket whene’er I heard them jinglin’ keys, because Aunt Clara ne’er liked ’em rodents hangin’ around her house. I was a smart boy, I really was. I see the clearing an’ I know I’ve found it, I’ve found the safe spot. George’ll come get me here before the water turns black and the sun goes down, he’s always been better at directions than me, plus he’s got an ol’ compass nicked from a farmer back in Weed. Maybe someday George’ll teach it to me. But not soon, he ain’t going to teach me no compass because he gonna be mad when he finds me. The bush is sticking into me like I’m wrapped up in barbed wire. If only I was in a softer bush, a bush made of hair maybe. Like her hair, the girl back at the ranch. She should grow it out and make a blanket for me, like Aunt Clara did with sheep wool. Except I know it ain’t gonna happen because hair don’t grow on people who don’t breathe. But I didn’t mean to do it! I jus’ wanted to touch it, I jus’ wanted to pet it like I pet my mice. I jus’ want to pet my mice…. The river still tinkles like ‘em keys, an’ I feel like I should hide my mouse, but I can’t this time. I can’t find me my mouse because she’s back at the ranch. She’s back there lying on the hay like one o’ those torn up beanie-dolls, the beans spillin’ outta her, prolly makin’ a mess o’ the barn. You weren’t so smart this time, Lenny, Aunt Clara couldn’t catch you but George’ll. George is cleverer than Aunt Clara, oh, George is cleverer than anyone. Soon he gonna come crashin’ inta here an’ he gonna give me hell over an’ over. He coulda’ had it so easy without me, he coulda’ gotten a nice lil’ place, maybe even a girl. I could go, I coulda gone any time. George, he don’t need me like I need him, why, he don’ need me at...
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